Chance Encounter Leads to Valuable Community Connection for Paris Man

By Deron Hamel

Doug Pearson recently discovered a valuable community connection at the church next to his home.

Doug had finished his weekly music therapy session one Thursday at St. Paul’s United Church in Paris, Ont., when the church’s women’s group invited him to join them for lunch.

Since he was waiting to be picked up and he had time to spare, he took the women up on their offer.

When staff from Doug’s home arrived, they found Doug sharing a meal with the women. They realized how special this moment was for both Doug and his new friends.

“Watching him open up and be comfortable with these new opportunities has been a joy to see; it just warms my heart.”

The path to this new connection for Doug started when Brenda Braund, a staff member at the congregated living home where Doug lives, was chatting with a St. Paul’s staff member at a party.

Since the church is next to Doug’s home, the two began talking about potential partnership opportunities. Ideas they discussed included sharing space, inviting people from the congregated living home to church services, and
collaborating on events like bake sales.

Brenda’s talk with the church staff member led to the church offering Doug space for him to use for music therapy, which is what brought him to St. Paul’s that day.

Doug asked Brenda to share his story with Community Living Brant because the connection he’s made with the church is important to him.

It’s also a connection Doug made on his own, Brenda notes.

“It was so meaningful to Doug because he’s so misunderstood,” she says. “It just shows us that people can belong and we (sometimes) just get in the way.”

Building on this connection with St. Paul’s, Doug is now attending the church’s Sunday services. He’s made friends with other church members as well, Brenda notes.

“It’s just a really comfortable setting for him, and it’s amazing to see that opportunity blossom into something more,” she says.

Brenda says she’s seeing Doug’s personal development flourish since connecting with St. Paul’s.

While Doug has always been someone who enjoys spending lots of time alone, he’s also seeing the value of having close relationships with others, thanks to the people at the church, she adds.

“Watching him open up and be comfortable with these new opportunities has been a joy to see; it just warms my heart,” Brenda says.


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